Apple to health devs: “If your app behaves in a way that risks physical harm, we may reject it.”

Apple today released new stricter guidelines for developers building mobile health apps. The company made clear that medical data is particularly sensitive and apps may subject to more rules. In a nutshell, the key points are: 

* Apps must not write false or inaccurate data into HealthKit

* Apps developing human-subject research must seek approval from an independent ethics review board. 

* Apps may not use or disclose to third parties customers’ data gathered in the health, fitness, and medical research context. 

This is a really big deal. Countless snake oil “health” apps have slipped by Apple and evaded federal regulators, potentially putting patients at harm. It’s a wild, wild west out there. Agencies like the FDA and FTC simply don’t have the man power to police these apps, with a few notable exceptions.